My First Southwest International Flight to Cancun Could Have Gone Better (Trip Report)

You may know that I’m one of the Condé Nast Top Travel Specialists. When the founder of that list, Wendy Perrin, left the magazine, she started a new website and created the WOW List for an incredible group of destination specialists. Since I don’t specialize in a destination, I’m not actually on the list. But as a friend of the family, so to speak, I’m invited to attend the annual gathering. This year it was at the Grand Velas Rivera Maya near Cancun, a part of the world I’d never been before. (Disclosure: the hotel paid for my stay, but the flights were on me.) That meant I had my first opportunity to try an international Southwest flight. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I’m writing up the outbound today, and I’ll talk a bit about the hotel as well as the return flight in a special post tomorrow.

Why did I pick Southwest? Well, three reasons. One, I wanted to see how Southwest handled international flying. Two, it was cheap. And three, I have a companion pass and my wife could come along. I used 23,138 Rapid Rewards points plus $41.26 in taxes for me. I also bought EarlyBird for the return for $15 since I didn’t think I’d be able to check myself in. Unfortunately, the night before, my wife had to cancel. One kid had a high fever (which has since broken) and the other had lice. The joys of parenthood….

The morning of the flight, it was pouring rain. It took me twice as long as usual to get to LAX, though incredibly, the traffic inside the airport wasn’t all that bad. I had checked in the night before to get my B12 boarding number, but it said I had to go to a kiosk or see an agent to get the boarding pass. That was annoying since I had no checked luggage.

As I walked in the door, I saw an empty kiosk so I printed out my boarding pass and went to security. The Pre Check line was longer than the regular line, but I stuck with it. At the ID checker, I handed over my passport, and he asked if I had another ID. In a momentary flash of panic, I asked if there was a problem. Sure was. I had just renewed my passport, and I hadn’t signed the new one yet. Good thing I had my driver license with me. On the other side, I signed it.

I found a seat at the gate and was immediately blasted with PA after PA telling people that if they didn’t have a “DOCS OK” stamp, they had to come to the podium. I ignored it since the kiosk didn’t say there were any issues. But the woman next to me saw my boarding pass and told me to go up. Once there, I found two busy agents. The first seemed to be very new (at least at working international flights) and had to stop the other agent to ask a question every few seconds. Even though all they had to do was stamp my boarding pass, it took a couple minutes once it was my turn. They continued to page people until I boarded.

I had hoped to get a nice view outside, but Living Spaces has ruined that opportunity. They built this big display with comfy seating and have frosted over every window. This is an outrage. For shame, Living Spaces.


January 12, 2017
Southwest 340 Lv Los Angeles 840a Arr Cancun 405p
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 12A, Runway 24L, Depart 11m Late
Cancun (CUN): Gate 19, Runway 12L, Arrive 20m Late
N7703A, Boeing 737-76N, Canyon Blue Colors, 90% Full
Seat 4F, Coach
Flight 4h6m

Even with B12, my now-favorite seat 4F was open so I took it and stared out into the gloom. I do have to say, that was one sweet old paint job they had parked on the side.

The flight attendant came on and announced that while there was wifi on this airplane, we should buy it at our risk. He said that the other day when he flew to Cancun, they were connected the whole way but coming back they had nothing. I appreciated the warning.

The captain came on to say we’d have some bumps on the way up and it wouldn’t smooth until we hit Phoenix. (Turns out he was wrong. It was mostly smooth all the way to Phoenix.) We pushed back 11 minutes late for no given reason, and then it took us 20 minutes to taxi to the runway which was only a few yards away.

We took off into the soup and pointed east. The flight attendants came through and despite the early hour, I ordered a Wild Turkey. After the last few days with sick kids and a variety of other issues, I decided I earned it no matter the hour. The woman next to me was even kind enough to hand me a drink coupon. (The ones the airline gave me when I did 9 Airports, 1 Day either expired last year or I gave them out to people at Dorkfest.)

I logged on, and while we were technically connected, it’s hard to say that it was in any way useful. I was able to tweet, on occasion could receive email, but I could almost never send email and certainly couldn’t do anything else.

The flight attendant announced he’d be coming through with “light snacks, with the emphasis on light.” I took peanuts, Ritz with cheese, Fritos, and Oreos. Not exactly a breakfast of champions.

About halfway through, the lav lines were getting long, and a different flight attendant made the announcement that due to “international law” you are not allowed to line up for either lav. I’d only heard that for the front lav before, but I suppose it could be a weird Mexican law. Anyone know?

My row waited in our seats for about 10 minutes. It was almost our turn before the captain came to use the lav. Then the first officer. I gave up and went to the back. The flight attendant again told me to sit down, but I talked to her for long enough that the person came out and I was able to go in. I told her she needs one of those “take a number” things and she, looking very annoyed at the number of people continuously lining up, actually started writing down numbers on napkins and handing them out.

All in all, it took me over half an hour to actually use the lav from when I first tried to get up. After I sat back down, the flight attendant came back on the PA and announced that she would be handing numbers out to anyone who wanted to use the back lav. She said to ring the call button if people needed to use it, and nearly 30 did. She started announcing numbers over the PA when the lav opened and that annoyingly continued through much of the rest of the flight.

Just before we headed over the coastline in Texas, I decided to try wifi again. This time it connected… but it wanted me to pay $8 again. The $8 is supposed to be good all day, so I was miffed, and I wasn’t about to lose another $8. (I also sent a note to request a refund specifically because of that, but I haven’t heard back yet.) Instead I stared out the window and saw this beautiful scene as we went “feet wet.”

I resigned myself to watching crappy daytime television, but even that failed me an hour before arrival when it just stopped working. (Now I’ll never know if that woman won her People’s Court case….)

Soon we were over the Yucatan Peninsula and I was amazed at just how green and dense the forest was. We came down through some scattered clouds and landed. After taxiing around the airport, we finally parked just about 20 minutes late. I loved the variety of airlines. Just look at this line-up.

After walking down into the immigration area, I was confronted with a teeming mass of people. It seems like every flight arrived at the same time and they had us all gather together.

It was a mess, it was hot, and the line wasn’t moving very fast. It took me a full hour before I got through immigration only to be confronted by a long customs line as well. This one took only 15 minutes, but then I lost the lottery and got the dreaded red light. (Mexico makes you push a button and it randomly gives you green or red.) Red meant I had to go to another line where someone would pull apart my bags and look at everything I owned.

I made it through the throngs of people selling taxi rides and found a person holding a sign with my name at the overly crowded curb.

I had to wait another 15 plus minutes before my ride could get into the terminal area. In the end, I didn’t get to the hotel until 7pm, more than 3 hours after I should have landed.

Stay tuned for the riveting conclusion tomorrow.

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87 Responses to My First Southwest International Flight to Cancun Could Have Gone Better (Trip Report)

  1. BJ says:

    I generally will only book widebody for anything over two hours. It’s seven toilets for 275 passengers versus three toilets for 175 passengers. The maths is easy. Doesn’t help when you’ve hit 50.

  2. Eric Morris says:

    Brett, did you get PreCheck on a WN international flight?

    • Eric Morris says:

      Google just told me what numerous emails I receive from SW and a couple of phone calls to pay infant taxes and get minors attached to parents didn’t. I guess the new SW doesn’t go out of its way to show that it is just now as good as its competition.

    • Eric – Yes indeed, Southwest has finally at least fixed that problem and has Pre Check on international. That went years before being fixed.

  3. robert_239 says:

    To call Cancun an international destination is a bit amusing, at least to me. You get the hassle of a busy immigration and customs facility and all else is chaotic and all to visit a place that is pretty much like an American destination. I spend much time in the area but Cancun and the Cancun airport are the worst part of the experience.

    • BigDaddyJ says:

      Yep. Arguably, a lot of American tourists want just that—a destination that feels close enough to home.

      • robert_239 says:

        Agree with that. I am always surprised to read it is someone’s first trip to Cancun. I thought everyone in the world had been!

        • Chris says:

          Same. For those of you who haven’t been, it’s essentially Vegas without the gambling.

        • BigDaddyJ says:

          I haven’t been, and given that I can go to Hawaii instead in a similar timeframe from the West Coast, I just do that. At least Hawaii has the wet sides of the island, which are less pure tourism…

    • robert_239 – Unfortunately, Southwest doesn’t get much more international than that. Fortunately I wasn’t in Cancun itself on this trip but down near Playa del Carmen. It was nice. But you say you’re surprised when people haven’t been to Cancun. Come to the west coast and you’ll find plenty of us. I could be sitting on a beach in Hawai’i drinking mai tais sooner than I can get to a beach in Cancun. I’ll pick Hawai’i every time.

      • BigDaddyJ says:

        Yep. And if you’re an East Coaster (as I was once), there’s always the Caribbean, where you have a lot more options if you don’t want the full-on tourist experience.

    • MeanMeosh says:

      Cancun is a big draw for us Texans, since it’s the closest “international” beach destination and one of the few ports you can visit by cruise ship from Galveston (yes, Texas does have the Gulf Coast, but anything north of Corpus Christi, the beaches are horrible, and the water is ugly everywhere). The rest of the country? I’d guess not so much, outside of the western Gulf Coast and the southern plains. As Cranky and BigDaddyJ have noted, elsewhere, there’s equal or better resort destinations that are closer than Cancun.

      As for me, I’d rather go to Belize or Grand Cayman, which are about the same distance by air.

      • Drybean says:

        You need to visit South Padre Island off the coast of Texas and Mexico about 180 miles south of Corpus Christi. Travel channel says SPI is America’s Best Family Beach. AA, UA, WN all have non stops. BRO has a free Island shuttle.

  4. Larry says:

    Took SWA from Denver to Cancun and back between 12/18 and 12/27.
    – did not encounter the no lining up in the back of plane for the bathroom; believe that was your flight only

    – my known traveler number did not transfer onto my boarding pass automatically even though it is in SWA system and this never happened before so can only assume it was an international issue

    – in the past when I paid for extremely bad wifi on SWA, I have written an email to their customer service explaining the situation in detail and they have reversed the charge

    • Larry – Did you enter the known traveler number directly in the reservation or did you just hope it would transfer from your profile? Pre Check finally works internationally on them, but I wonder if they don’t pull from the profile and it has to be entered manually. That would suck but be unsurprising.

  5. wasawyerjr says:

    I fly a lot internationally. It is very rare that they make an issue of “congregating in the aisles is prohibitted by international law”. It’s announced then…A Dfw- Tokyo or Hong Kong will have a crowd standing in the aisle…A thought comes to mind, internal rules or policy, inexperienced cabin crew and maybe an air marshal aboard. They might have wanted to adhere to laws more strictly… I’ve been on the short runs Dfw to Cozumel too- big lines as people start to “party”.I’ve not had good luck with wifi onboard. On AA usually it’s advised that when you cross the border there are no guarantees. On the long haul routes mentioned Chinese airspace has no access…Have a good one.
    Bill Powered by Cricket Wireless

    • wasawyerjr – Yes indeed, AA wifi won’t work outside the border because it’s ground-based. Southwest’s should work further, in theory, but either way I was trying to use it in the US and it still was slow as molasses. After my last several experiences, I’m effectively going under the assumption that Southwest will not have wifi on my flights going forward.

  6. GaryWI says:

    CUN immigration can be a real pain. What confuses me is the airport/immigration knows how many planes and arrival time for staffing purposes. Two years ago I waited 2.5 hours but last year 10 minutes. Both were Saturday winter arrivals. Pack your patience, empty your bladder and hope for the best

    • Eric Morris says:

      I’ve had good experiences in CUN arrivals. Not so much on our return to the “Land of the Free”.

    • GaryWI – It was so strange. They had several aircraft pouring into the immigration area at the same time, and all coming from different angles, so there was no coherent line. They just kept bunching us up. Then at one point, you have to decide which of three separate lines you want to get in. I picked #2 which had about 6 open counters, but then inexplicably half closed and one had a passport issue so the line stopped moving. It makes no sense how they’ve set this up. As we got toward the front, I looked back and saw that it was mostly empty behind us. Just a huge rush at once and then nothing.

    • TimH says:

      What really gets me is the little border control “stub” that you have to present as you board the plane to leave Mexico. If you lose it, you have to pay $20 – as far as I can tell, they do it exactly so that they can get $20 off of disorganized tourists.

      • CP says:

        This happened to me. I flew Interjet and and was in the line to check in for over half hour. When I made it to the counter the agent told me that they could not issue the boarding pass without the stub. It took me a while to make it to the Migra, then had to take cash out and then waited some more because other people came in. It was a pain overall and it was almost departing time. Fortunately the flight was delayed and getting through security was quick. As expected, once I made it to the gate, I found the original stub.

  7. Easy says:

    During your 11 minute delay at pushback, was the cabin door open or closed? If the door was closed then, LAX as you know, is under major construction. From terminals to the runways themselves, the construction is causing major delays and congestion so “pushing” on time can be a fleeting proposition at times for flight crews. LAX will be difficult until the year 2019.

    • Easy – I believe it was open, though I could be confusing that with the return when our 45 minute delay had the door open. If it was an LAX delay, I figured they would have made an announcement blaming the airport, but nothing ever was said so I just don’t know.

  8. BigDaddyJ says:

    Wait, is this right? Looks like LAX-CUN is operated by a 737-700 with only 2 bathrooms. That’s 2 for 143 people, or roughly 1 per 71. That’s a terrible ratio (compared to their 737-800s, with 3 for 175, or roughly 1 per 58). No wonder the lines were ridiculous.

    That’s worse than even the densified legacies. AA has 2 per 144 (1 per 72) on their 737-800s for the economy section, but if you’re desperate you can at least use the 3rd bathroom in the front.

    • BigDaddyJ – Yes, that’s correct. 2 lavs for that long flight. Also, thinking about the AA 737, it’s much better for a couple reasons. First, you have both lavs in the back, so you have one line to feed two lavs instead of two separate lines. (Forget about the “no lining up in the front lav” issue as well.) Second, the flight crew uses the First Class lav up front so it doesn’t impact coach. I was amazed how much time was taken up by the flight crew using the front lav on both flights. They would always hang around and talk, get coffee, or something. It took up a lot of time.

      • BigDaddyJ says:

        Ah, yes. Wow. The WN 738s are OK, but I’ll avoid their 737-700s for any kind of nontrivial flight.

        (As a ex-SJC/SFO traveler, I try to mostly fly AS anyway, which is getting easier and easier as they expand their route network.)

  9. deltabsg says:

    why in gods name would u take south west to CUN they have no experience in anything its the cattle car of the century

  10. Oliver says:

    It would be nice if you could get someone from WN explain how the “no standing in line for the lavs” is supposed to work in practice. Completely ridiculous unless they preassign potty slots to people or let you make potty reservations in your smart phone (OpenLav… you heard it here first). Of course, wit crappy wifi that may lead to mishaps.

    • Gary Miller says:

      It is a FAA regulation, due to 911 that you can not stand in line for the lav’s. It’s a safety issue. WiFi will only work so far out of the US, the crew should have made an announcement. That being said WN is switching back to its original wifi provider since they have had so many problems with the current one. As far as the crew using the lav, you dont know how long they have been working and they have to keep hydrated, so yes they are going to use the lav. They use the front one, because of the line up for the back bathroom. Giving the numbers out is a pretty good idea to get everyone in the lav in a timely manner. However, the Flight Attendant could have looked for the number instead of making a PA. There is a lot that has to be done when going out of country, so your experience sounds very normal, but hopefully you will give Southwest another try and have a better experience.

      • CF says:

        Gary – The FAA rule is for the front lav. We were not allowed to line up at any lav. And I don’t blame the flight crew for having to use the bathroom. Southwest just needs more lavs.

    • Drybean says:

      You are asking too much. How can an airline that can’t figure out seat assignment be expected to assign potty spots. How do other airlines handle the potty line?

  11. Anonymous says:

    * Riviera

  12. David SF eastbay says:

    So a flight to Mexico can have a TLM on board? You know TLM, Toilet Line Monitor.

  13. CR says:

    I had a small desire to check out Cancun someday but after reading your trip report thus far, I now have zero desire to visit. What a mess. Looking forward to the return report.

  14. stan says:

    summery:

    man buys southwest, gets a very southwest-like product. is disappointed.

  15. Charles says:

    Sounds like a power tripping FA making up rules more than anything.

  16. southbay flier says:

    Cancun was really never on my list of places to visit. This doesn’t make me ever want to go.

  17. Carol says:

    Good Lord. Traveling is not a picnic! If a 20 minute delay bothers you, how do you ever deal with the BIG STUFF? Yes, other people travel too, and you will run into them at your destination. There are pills for anxiety disorders. Know when you begin an adventure that the opportunity for annoyance is always there.
    Download or bring a book if you need constant entertainment. Bring your own breakfast or any other special snack desires. Try to use the rest room before getting on the flight. Then, try to use the lav at the first opportunity. If you are associated with the travel industry you should be more aware. Thinking you must have needed to write something and couldn’t think of anything better than to complain. Did you mention your age?

    • Jim M says:

      I think wanting to use the restroom on a four hour flight is a pretty reasonable request.

    • Yo says:

      Carol, some people may be on medications which cause them to have to go to the bathroom, a lot, so yeah, a 20 minute delay can be a pretty bad thing. I’m glad you have such an exceptional bladder, and I hope that you are doing the best you can to better the future gene pool.

    • BigDaddyJ says:

      Er, this is Cranky. He’s been a frequent flyer (and would still be if it wasn’t for kids). He knows as well as anyone, and I think a lot of people appreciate his reviews because of his veteran perspective.

  18. Leslie in Oregon says:

    We’re making the round-trip between the Pacific Northwest and Cancun next month, so I appreciate the warnings about immigration and customs and am glad we decided to fly Alaska rather than Southwest. Despite years of near-free travel privileges, I’ve never been tempted by Cancun, even when I lived in NYC. Fortunately, we will not be staying in Cancun but going on to a rustic island about 2 hours away. P.S. As a former purser on international flights, I cannot imagine prohibiting lavatory lines without some kind of system in place to allow access to the lavatories.

    • ejwp says:

      If you are going to Holbox – it’s wonderful! The only reason I can think of for going to CUN!

    • BigDaddyJ says:

      Alaska’s 737-800s are just fine for longer trips. They are relatively dense with slimline seats in economy, but IMO reasonably comfortable, and they have 2 or 3 bathrooms in the back, which makes a huge difference compared to Southwest’s 1 in this case.

      We fly them to Hawaii regularly from California, and have never had a bad experience. They don’t have IFE, but if you have a tablet or phone they do have streaming media you can access. Pre-install the Gogo Video Player.

      • frumby says:

        Southwest -800’s have the same lav configuration but wider seats.

        • BigDaddyJ says:

          Right, but the difference with WN is that Alaska flies (a) 738s almost exclusively for long-haul; (b) for the 737-700 equipment they still have, AS still has 3 bathrooms.

          In other words, you’re going to get a better lav experience on AS. And, AS is good about being on-time (the best in the US if you exclude HA, which is a special case).

  19. Al says:

    SW Flight attendant completely made the rule up. No such thing on an international flight. Flew 2 overseas to SYD from SFO on UA and 1 flight to HKG from SFO on SQ this past year and people all the time waiting in line for the rear lavatories. No issues whatsoever with the crew of people waiting.

    • CF says:

      Al – Well presumably if there is “international law” that applied here, it would be Mexican. I’m waiting to get an answer from Southwest on this.

  20. Yo says:

    When I flew Southwest to Costa Rica (PHX-LAX-LIR), the gate agents out of PHX could not figure out how to get my pre-check on my ticket, (it worked with my companion though), they spent 25 minutes and went through 8 people trying to fix it. The number was in my flight profile, but they couldn’t do it and I was running out of time (especially since I had to go in the long line…grrr). Thankfully the flight out of LAX (in terminal 2) was very empty. None of the video on demand worked, and I wasn’t going to pay for wifi. I did get pre-check when they printed my tix on the return though, for the flight back to PHX we had the dreaded gate at LAX that is away from everyone and in the basement, with no windows anywhere, just awful. Southwest has some improvements to make.

    • frumby says:

      In June, Southwest will no longer be flying LAX-LIR

      • Yo says:

        Really? The fare was really cheap ($425 RT from PHX). I think AS flies the same route. The timing of the flight wasn’t all that great, you get in there around 9 pm, and its a small airport, the plane RON’s there and the return is early morning.

        The FA’s were a bit over reacting about the bathroom. When the FO went to use the front lav, a flight attendant told everyone in line to get back to their seats, and she guarded the door until the FO came out. I understand the rules, but they were really militant about it.

  21. JoEllen says:

    “About halfway through, the lav lines were getting long, and a different flight attendant made the announcement that due to “international law” you are not allowed to line up for either lav. I’d only heard that for the front lav before, but I suppose it could be a weird Mexican law. Anyone know?”
    —-
    What, did Southwest make this up ?…..never heard of it and my airline has been flying to Cancun for 20+ years. Gotta love it with Southwest – they’re like scared little cats who are so afraid of being politically incorrect so they idiotically state an unheard of non-existent rule and expect their obedient children (passengers) to obey it. Who was going to police this, the “invisible” bathroom police on board ? This is why I don’t fly them…..they are just so condescending – they treat passengers like they are little children and that something scary or evil is going to happen if someone gets up to go to the bathroom.

  22. JoEllen says:

    Sorry, continuing —
    (after I read “apparently an international Mexican law” ????). So when the flight lands the Mexican authorities/police ask the crew if anyone got up to go to the bathroom while in flight ?? I can guarantee CF, if someone at Southwest can provide this “law” or rule, (written), I will NEVER say anything negative about them again.

  23. chris1 says:

    That’s typical CUN customs. First time I went arrived on a 2p Sat DL flight and got to rental car at 545p. Your pic is typical Sat congestion made worse by the one off DL or AA Sat only service. 2nd time arrived at 2p on a Tuesday and waited 15 min. Last time was on Super Bowl night , 830p arrival – no lines no waiting.

    • CF says:

      Chris – What a mess. Though it looks like all the US carriers are in Terminal 3 with Southwest being the lone exception in Terminal 2. I wonder which one is worse.

  24. Steve says:

    30+ year FA here and WN totally has it wrong when it comes to the international lav rule! The ONLY rule is that on the RETURN to the US you have to use the lavatory in the cabin in which you’re sitting. Now with WN being all one cabin, I suppose you could interpret that as the front half uses the fwd lav and the back half uses the aft lav. There is NO rule on flights departing the US. It sounds like it was a s&%$ show….no pun intended. I’m appalled that they are flying long flights with only two lavs!!

    • frumby says:

      Give it a rest, Southwest has always had a two lav configuration except on their -800’s. BWI-SJC, in the winter months, is a 6 hour flight. No one complains and their flights are always full.

      • BigDaddyJ says:

        I’m sure plenty of people are unhappy about it—and plenty more (like me) simply avoid WN. Ultimately, though, if the flight is on-time people are unlikely to remember the lav configuration.

  25. Don Roberto says:

    Terminal in Cancun looks like a big a mess as the passport control in Johannesburg.

  26. Teryl Knight says:

    I’m so sorry you had a bad flight. It was all I could do to keep everyone happy. Yes, I was your flight attendant on your flight making that announcement. Too many people getting up to use the bathroom and having to wait and were getting very upset. A passenger suggested that I pass out numbers and I improvised. If I had a chance to do it over I would’ve done it differently. Please accept my most humble apology and I hope you will give us a chance again.

  27. BJ says:

    Teryl
    The issue is more systemic. There are more passengers shoved in with the same or fewer toilets. I feel for the crew, especially on full service, when they are trying to do the service with a constant stream (NPI) heading to and from the bathrooms. I get their frustration. The crew shouldn’t have to apologise for a shitty (NPI again) aircraft layout.

    • Teryl Knight says:

      No I feel terrible! I’m so horrified that I caused SW bad press. I can’t even sleep now! It was a stupid thing to do! Never in my life have I been so moritified and feel so bad at a decision I’ve made. I am so sorry this person had a bad flight. I wish there was something I could do to make it up to them!

      • Teryl says:

        The rule is for returning to the US. I made a mistake and should have read up on it in my manual. I’m so sorry for your bad experience. Never in my life have I been so mortified and embarrassed by something I have done. I literally had a panic attack when I read your blog! Like all of the blood rushing out of my head and not being able to breathe! God I wish I could do something or say something to make it all better but you were right to be upset and now I just want to tell you how terrible I feel! How if I could do it all over I wouldn’t have done that! Please forgive me for such a stupid mistake!

        • CF says:

          Teryl – Thanks for writing in. Just knowing that it is not, in fact, a rule, makes me feel a lot better about flying internationally on Southwest again in the future. Mistakes happen. And frankly, writing the numbers down on napkins was a great plan if that were a real rule. (Announcing over the PA not so much, but better than a free-for-all.) That’s proactive customer service.

          But can you clarify what the actual rule is? I’ve reached out to the PR team for comment and haven’t heard back yet. Are you saying that people can’t line up for any lavs on flights back into the US? I’ve never heard that before either. The front lav, yes. But not the back.

          Really the biggest problem you face is having only 2 lavs for the entire airplane on long flights. That’s something only the company could fix.

          • Teryl says:

            I sent you a reply to your email but wanted to reply to your post too. The napkin thing was my idea (suggested by well, I believe you). It is not a procedure for SW. I just had a chaotic situation that needed a solution and I just improvised. I had no idea it would turn out the way it did. I’m really sorry for your experience and probably annoyance with using the PA to announce the numbers. It was a lapse in judgment and I take full responsibility for my mistake.
            The no congregating in the aisle or lavatories is in our manual but it is for returning flights only. Again, my mistake and won’t be making that one again.
            I’m glad the rest of your trip went well! Hope you got some sun!
            Thanks for hearing me out and once again I am truly sorry!

            • David M says:

              “The no congregating in the aisle or lavatories is in our manual but it is for returning flights only.”

              Now that you mention this, it does remind me. I don’t recall ever hearing anything specific about saying passengers can’t line up for the rear lavatory the way it is often stated about for the front lavatory. But I have heard announcements about passengers not being allowed to congregate in galley areas, and since the galleys and lavatories are often next to each other, the net result could be the same thing. I don’t feel like the rule has been strictly enforced on my long haul wide body international flights (though I’m usually trying to sleep or watching movies on IFE, so I’m not paying too close attention to what’s going on around the galleys), or even too much on other flights (including WN transcons).

  28. Anonymous Amy says:

    You’re a bitch and grown ass brat.

    • Anonymous Amy – I’m going to assume that this worthless comment was intended for me, so I’ll let it stand. (I’ve been called worse.) But I’ve received emails from others saying I should take it down because the flight attendant doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. If this was aimed at the flight attendant, I’d pull it down immediately.

  29. Steve says:

    Teryl, you’re a class act! It’s amazing that you saw this thread and were able to clarify things with everyone. Safe flying!!

  30. Anonymous John says:

    The rule about the no forming lines is true but only for flights coming back to the US. The whole picking numbers things was probably good intentions but failed. You can’t really complain about the snacks, I mean it isnt first class and they do let you have as many as you want. The whole complaining about the gate agents, this is new to them and like first time travelers there are gonna be some hiccups. You wouldnt tell a 1st time flyer they must know everything about boarding seat selection etc so why would you expect a gate agent know all of the system on destinations that are new to them? You just have to roll with the punches. Last but not least ATC has a big part on when the planes can leave, and being in LA and you travel a lot you should be use to this. Overall you need to realize your not traveling on Korean Airlines, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, etc.

    • Anonymous John says:

      Also people bringing all items on board when they can check 2 bags also delays the departure time.

    • CF says:

      Anonymous John – I think you’re reading into things too much here. A trip report is just that – a report on the trip. Was I complaining about only having snacks? No. I was just explaining what it was. If anything, I was commenting on the fact that none of those are breakfast foods in any way.
      But even then, it wasn’t really a complaint. I don’t care about food on airplanes. And as for the gate agents, again, just pointing out how slow the process was. Not assigning blame. Lastly, to your other comment, why on earth would I check a bag just because Southwest gives me 2 for free? I don’t want them for free. There is a carry-on allowance for a reason, and I will do as I’m allowed.

      You seem overly sensitive here. So what do you do for the company?

  31. Lewis says:

    To Teryl’s credit – she hasn’t done anything wrong, in fact she may be enforcing a little-enforced rule.
    There’s a thread over on flyertalk from years ago about it where some CX/UA FAs enforced the rule in the way Teryl has. When I’ve flown on QF to/from the US, they’ve always made an announcement similar to this one: “Passengers are not allowed to congregate around the lavatories or galleys of the aircraft on any flight within or to/from the United States”.
    I’ve never seen it enforced for people lining up for lavatories, I was under the impression the rule is only there to stop people getting up from their seat and hanging around lavatories/emergency exits and having conversation. That said, I’ve never seen 10-20+ people lining up one or two lavs on any aircraft.

    I haven’t come across this rule on flights to/from/within any other country, including on other QF flights.

  32. Susan says:

    I flew to & from Cancun in early December – on UAL. Got lucky on arrival, pretty darn fast thru the lines. The chaos outside was nutty, added humor was one of the Duck Dynasty guys standing there taking photos with tourists!

    Fairly sure the bathroom rule was an imaginary one. We flew the UAL non-stop to Cancun, and connected thru (snowy) Denver on the way home. No wireless once you leave US & I’m still confused by their byo device thing, on the flight down the seats still had tv’s, but you had to pay to watch anything.

    We stayed at a resort North of Cancun – Finest – and it was nice, and in a fairly quiet area (we went for a wedding that was onsite) Enjoyed a day trip to Isla Muertes via ferry, and rented a golf cart for the day to tour the island.

  33. David says:

    We flew Southwest from Houston to Cancun 4 times last year and Costa Rica 2 times.

    We didn’t encounter any of the issues you encounters. Flights were on time and customs in Mexico was a 5-10 minute wait.

    I would say your flight was not typical.

  34. Jamie says:

    First off, I love SW. They are cheap, bags fly free and their customer service is the best I’ve ever encountered. They are always so accommodating and quick to fix mistakes and address my needs (including the 2 4 1 drinks I got when I flew on Veteran’s Day). That point seems to be proven with the FA that just came on here to profusely apologize. It sounds like she was just trying to fix a chaotic situation. It seems to be unfair saying she had a power trip. Now we know the story. Perhaps it wasn’t the best way to go about it, but at least she tried. At first I thought it could’ve been because of the bomb threat another airline had last week. Someone left a note in the bathroom. Maybe it was a new security measure? But, she explained it. I personally don’t like it when people stand right next to me while waiting in line for the bathroom. It’s annoying. Flying is already full of germs and people impeding on my space. And as someone who’s been in the military and working in jail, I don’t like people just standing around either in my space. It can be perceived as a security risk. Besides, SW hasn’t been flying international for long, so maybe she didn’t know. I know people travel for all sorts of reasons, but usually going to CUN is for vacation. Wanting to avoid going to CUN because of the airport crowd seems awfully silly to me. I’ve been twice and it’s nothing like Vegas. There’s a beach, history and a completely different language. Why do you need WIFI anyway? First off, I refuse to pay airport prices and second, if I’m going to vacation, I don’t need WIFI. As frustrating as that sounds, it’s just better to avoid it all together so you don’t leave disappointed.

  35. Leef33 says:

    Two lav’s for a four hour flight? What if one malfunctions or someone uses it for 15 minutes? Do FA’s start timing you?
    What if the plane cannot take off or land on time? What if you really need to go and you break the line or break the take a number rule? Does the plane divert and you go to jail? Or do you stay seated and relieve yourself? I think there were news stories for these situations in the last two months.

  36. Chris says:

    just flew HOU-CUN and back last week. Unusual for this WN employee to do, but I actually purchased the tickets with RR points. It went pretty smoothly as far as I was concerned. Did hear the no waiting at either lav announcement too. Both flights had lots of empty seats even though I purchased earlybird as well. Arrived into CUN at 7 pm on a Saturday so no long lines there. And arriving back into HOU we were the only flight that was being processed so long lines there either.

    The check-in process is still an issue with the 2 res systems and lots of peeps are still unfamiliar with the international system. The DOC OK stamp just gives a visual clue that your passport information has been entered and your passport verified prior to boarding.

    Enjoyed the trip both in the air and on the ground. Stayed in Playa del Carmen and made it a memoriable experience.

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